- Down a member and having moved to London from Edinburgh, NAKED deliver their first full-length, Zone. After producing Mykki Blanco's "Gay Dog Food" in 2014, the group released their debut EP, Youth Mode, last year on LuckyMe. That record was a mixed bag of stylistic touchstones, with reverb, ambience and delayed guitars pulling softly towards industrial drone but too often touching on bland indie rock.
On Zone, vocalist Agnes Gryczkowska's obscured lyrics are delivered in a dreamy, high-pitched voice that holds Alex Johnston's gritty compositions together. The production is impeccable, helped along by co-producer Paul Corley, who has previously worked with the likes of Oneohtrix Point Never and Ben Frost. The title track delivers the group's themes of information overload in crackling, crunching sonics. "Anomie" evokes steel beams bending under the weight of aggressive sub-bass. The track's insistent beat is cut through by Gryczkowska's moans and hyperventilation.
There's something almost camp about NAKED, especially in the hysterical performance of songs like "Body Mod" and "Skinlessly." "Slow" grinds, sputters and clicks in lumbering waves of dissonance. "Mesh" starts with a booming bassline before spontaneously combusting into a harmonious industrial melody.
The music is all over the place, as if the duo don't know quite what they're getting at. Ultimately, the album is undermined by NAKED's disorienting mix of cross-cultural reference points. The album's aesthetic recalls the hyper-capitalist dystopia of Fade To Mind, but that web-inspired globalism is taken further, into a range of uncomfortable Oriental signifiers ("Kowloon Dense," "Harakiri"). In its dated notion of an imaginary Southeast Asia and non-committal relationship with more progressive influences, Zone loses its edge.
03. Body Mod
07. Total Loss No Feeling
09. Kowloon Dense